When I was 12 I got a job delivering newspapers around my local estate after school. I loved having that paper round as I earned a few quid each week that I tended to put away and save for something. I soon switched to a longer, morning round that paid more. One thing led to another and I was soon doing a morning and after-school round that included Saturdays. I was encouraged to work by my Dad, he was a hard-working chap and taught me to graft.
The Paper Round
So, it’s no surprise that when the local newsagents were looking for delivery people I ushered Lydia towards doing this. She got a round that she did before school but she found it tough getting up in time to do her job, eat breakfast and be ready for school. But those organisation skills and getting up in a morning are life skills that have to be honed.
She was thirteen when she got that little job and it paid her about £10 per week for what was, in reality, very little work. But she called it quits, in the end, citing tiredness and we agreed given that after school she goes dancing too. No point burning the candle at both ends.
But now she’s approaching fifteen (even writing that it sounds weird to have a 15-year-old daughter) and she has a new job. She’s working in a local fish and chip restaurant and takeaway one evening a week. Helen works there too, but thankfully not at the same time, and feels that she’ll learn some excellent transferable skills for the future. Being able to deal with people from all walks of life is a skill that is undoubtedly one that she will need no matter what career path she takes, and she’ll learn that working in food service.
She’s paid well for her time and over the summer is hoping to be able to do a few extra shifts to save some money for our holiday. But more importantly, she enjoys it and she can fit it in around school and dancing.
Is She Too Young?
We’re no longer in the Victoria era where children went to work at ridiculously young ages – as young as 5 in some cases. We must also be careful that children are not exploited by unscrupulous employers when we do deem them mature enough to get a job.
I use the work mature deliberately in the previous paragraph because I believe this to be more important than age. Thirteen seems to be the commonly accepted age that a child would get a little job, and the UK government would appear to agree with that. But we must make sure a teenager is mature enough as well to do the job.
To answer the question Is She Too Young? I say – no, not at all. She’s learning that money is earned and she’s learning some excellent transferable skills.
What About Letting Children Be Children
This is something I have said in the past. But we have to face the fact that teenagers are being prepared for adult life at secondary school in every way and having a little part-time job is part of that development.
I don’t feel I missed out on any part of my childhood because I spent a few hours each week, out on my bike in all weather, delivery newspapers. I loved it and wouldn’t change that for anything. I have no doubt that it did me good. I still had loads of time to meet up with friends and generally doss about like a teenager. Some friends had milk rounds and started at 3.30am; they earned far more than I did on my paper round but there was no way I was getting up at that time!
For me, thirteen is the age children should be looking to get a little job to earn a bit of their own money. Find the right job and the right balance is key though.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this – let me know in the comments.